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Army ant invasion of leatherback nests in Gabon

Egg mortality is one of the main factors affecting life history and conservation of oviparous species. A massive and cryptic colonisation of many leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) eggs is presented in the most important rookery for the species in Gabon. A total of 163 nests were exhumed at Kingere beach, revealing that only 16.7% of eggs produced hatchlings. In the 59% of the nests, more than half of the eggs were dead and attacked by invertebrates and 94% had at least one egg affected by invertebrates. The rate of eggs and SAGs (yolkless eggs) affected by invertebrates within a clutch ranged from 0% to 100%, with an average proportion of 39% and 52%, respectively. The most common invertebrates interacting with the eggs were ghost crabs and insects that affected 51% and 82% of the nests, respectively. Crab and insect co-occurred in 33% of the affected nests. Ants, identified as Dorylus spininodis (Emery 1901) were found in 56% of the excavated nests. However, it was not possible to determine if the ants predated alive eggs or scavenged dead eggs. Very often, hundreds of ants were found drowned within dead eggs. Termites and other invertebrates were associated with the clutch environment and identified as opportunistic feeders, being this is the first record of interaction between termites and sea turtle eggs. An unusual ecological interaction within the leatherback clutches between termites and ants was found in 11% of the nests. The abrupt transition between the soil forest and the beach might be favouring a thriving microbial and invertebrate activity in the sand profile that colonises the nests. informacion[at] Ikaran et al (2020) Cryptic massive nest colonisation by ants and termites in the world's largest leatherback turtle rookery Ethol Ecol Evol 2020. Doi 10.1080/03949370.2020.1715487
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Human activities link fruit bat presence to Ebola virus disease outbreaks

Human activities link fruit bat presence to Ebola virus disease outbreaks

A significant link between forest loss and fragmentation and outbreaks of Ebola virus disease (EVD) in humans has been documented. Deforestation may alter the natural circulation of viruses and change the composition, abundance, behaviour and possibly viral exposure of reservoir species. This in turn might increase contact between infected animals and humans. Fruit bats of the family Pteropodidae have been suspected as reservoirs of the Ebola virus. At present, the only evidence associating fruit bats with EVD is the presence of seropositive individuals in eight species and polymerase chain reaction-positive individuals in three of these. This study investigates whether human activities can increase African fruit bat geographical ranges and whether this influence overlaps geographically with EVD outbreaks that, in turn, are favoured by deforestation. Species observation records were used for the 20 fruit bat species found in favourable areas for the Ebola virus to determine factors affecting the bats' range inside the predicted Ebola virus area. The range of some fruit bat species appeared to be linked to human activities within the favourable areas for the Ebola virus. More specifically, the areas where human activities favour the presence of five fruit bat species overlap with the areas where EVD outbreaks in humans were themselves favoured by deforestation. These five species are as follows: Eidolon helvum, Epomops franqueti, Megaloglossus woermanni, Micropteropus pusillus and Rousettus aegyptiacus. Of these five, all but Megaloglossus woermanni have recorded seropositive individuals. For the remaining 15 bat species, no biogeographical support was found for the hypothesis that positive human influence on fruit bats could be associated with EVD outbreaks in deforested areas within the tropical forest biome in West and Central Africa. This work is a useful first step allowing further investigation of the networks and pathways that may lead to an EVD outbreak. The modelling framework employed in this study can be used for other emerging infectious diseases. informacion[at] Olivero et al (2019) Human activities link fruit bat presence to Ebola virus disease outbreaks. Mammal Review. DOI 10.1111/mam.12173